Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner has filed a lawsuit against former friend Ron Bell and his girlfriend, Jennifer Pendley, claiming the pair attempted to extort and blackmail Pastner and his family.
In November, Bell provided CBS Sports with text messages, receipts and photos as evidence to back up a claim that he provided impermissible benefits to two Georgia Tech basketball players, Josh Okogie and Tardic Jackson. Okogie and Jackson were eventually suspended for six and three games, respectively, by the NCAA.
Bell also claimed that Pastner knew about the violations, which Pastner has denied. According to the lawsuit, which was obtained by USA Today, Pastner also claims that Bell alleged that Pastner sexually assaulted Pendley and that Bell threatened to put Pastner into the hospital. The extortion claims stem from Bell’s efforts to get Pastner to pay him to keep him fro providing the NCAA with any information that he had.
“I am disgusted and devastated by the actions of these two individuals to whom I showed compassion,’’ Pastner said in a statement released by his attorney. “My family and I are victims of fraud and extortion and the extent to which these individuals have gone to harm us is truly unfathomable.’’
Texas sophomore Andrew Jones was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this week, and in the days since it happened, Texas has officially launched a donation drive to “assists with medical and necessary family expenses.”
The drive is perfectly legal under NCAA rules, and the page is is linked here is the only official page where support can be donated.
The Longhorns play at Oklahoma State on Saturday. The day that the Jones news was announced, Texas won a double-overtime game at home against No. 16 TCU. After the emotional win, video of the team holding up Jones’ jersey circulated.
*(NOTE: Lines are not posted for Saturday or Sunday games as of publication. Spreads referenced are via Kenpom.com)
No. 2 WEST VIRGINIA at No. 8 TEXAS TECH (-6), 2:00 p.m.
There will not be a game between two tougher teams all season long. What’s most fascinating to me about this matchup is that it is a battle between two of the nation’s five best turnover inducing teams, but they go about it in totally different ways. West Virginia presses full court. Texas Tech gets after you in the half court.
Either way, I’m not sure that this is going to be the prettiest game. It will be physical, there will be a lot of fouls called and even more fouls that go uncalled. But these just might be the two best teams in the Big 12 this season. So it will certainly be worth the watch.
- PREDICTION: If you can get West Virginia (+6) I think you need to take West Virginia (+6). I don’t expect the spread to be that high when it is actually released. I think Texas Tech wins a close one. West Virginia (+6)
No. 25 CREIGHTON at No. 10 XAVIER (-2), 2:00 p.m.
Xavier is stuck in a rut. We went over that yesterday. Much of it has to do with the fact that Trevon Bluiett has not been right for a while, and he may end up facing off with Khyri Thomas on Saturday. That is not ideal. That said, the Musketeers have lost two in a row on the road. They’re coming back home in a game they really need to win if they want the pipe dream of unseating Villanova top the Big East to still be within reach.
- PREDICTION: I think this is the game where the notoriously streaky Bluiett gets it going. Once he gets it going, the Musketeers are a totally different team. Xavier (-2)
No. 16 TCU at No. 9 OKLAHOMA (-6), 1:00 p.m.
Just two weeks ago, Trae Young played his first road game as a member of the Big 12 conference at TCU, going for 39 points and 14 assists as the Sooners erased an 11-point second half deficit to win in Fort Worth. I expect more of the same from Young. His efficiency numbers took a hit the last two games, thanks to matchups with West Virginia and Texas Tech, and this should be the game where he gets right.
- PREDICTION: I think the Sooners win by double-digits. Oklahoma (-6)
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO WATCH?
Other than the NFL Playoffs?
Quite a bit, actually …
- MICHIGAN at No. 4 MICHIGAN STATE (-10), 12:00 p.m.: This in-state rivalry has gotten a lot more interesting now that Michigan is playing well and the Spartans are doing things like getting smoked by Ohio State and nearly losing to Rutgers at home. I think the Wolverines keep this close. Michigan (+10)
- No. 5 PURDUE (-8) at MINNESOTA, 12:00 p.m.: The Golden Gophers are a train wreck right now. I just don’t see them keeping pace with a very good Purdue team. Purdue (-8)
- OREGON at No. 17 ARIZONA (-9), 2:00 p.m.: Oregon is coming off of a win at Arizona State while Arizona is coming off of a scare at home against Oregon State. I think this is the game where the Wildcats wake-up and run Oregon out of Arizona. Arizona (-9)
- No. 18 MIAMI at No. 19 CLEMSON (-4), 3:00 p.m.: Miami badly need to right the ship. They’ve struggled on the offensive end of the floor, but with Clemson coming off of a loss at N.C. State on Thursday, the Tigers are going to be trying to avoid a losing streak as well. Miami (+4)
- No. 21 KENTUCKY (-5) at VANDERBILT, 4:00 p.m.: Vanderbilt has proven to be a tough out at home, and Kentucky hasn’t exactly been a world-beater this season. I think the actual line will be more than (-5), and I like Vandy to keep this close. Vandy (+5)
- TEXAS A&M at No. 24 TENNESSEE (-5), 6:00 p.m.: Texas A&M will drop to 0-5 in the SEC if they lose this game and are getting to the point where the team with the best roster – when healthy – in the league is in danger of missing the Big Dance. I think the Aggies – who are a couple of fluky plays away from being 2-2 in conference – figure it out. Texas A&M (+5)
Fun Friday podcast in the works this week. First, Rob Dauster is joined by Jay Bilas to talk, among other things, his love of Rupp Arena ice cream, the Kentucky Wildcats and why this season is so hard to figure out. Then Reags of the Fundamentally Sound podcast joins me to walk through all of this weekend’s game. One quick note: This podcast was recorded before Oregon beat Arizona State.
Anyway, here are the timecodes for today’s podcast:
OPEN: Jay Bilas on ice cream
3:38: Kentucky and why they’re a microcosm of college basketball this year
9:27: How worried should we be about Texas A&M, and how good is the SEC going to end up being
14:00: Duke and North Carolina, and Marvin Bagley’s defense
22:05: Virginia winning the ACC
24:34: The Pac-12 is so entertaining off the floor
41:45: Picks ATS and a weekend preview
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half as No. 17 Arizona pulled away from Oregon State in the final minutes, slogging their way to a 62-53 win at home over a team that shouldn’t have given them a scare in the McKale Center.
Deandre Ayton scored 14 points and 10 boards while Rawle Alkins added 11 points for the Wildcats.
Trier made a number of big threes down the stretch to help Arizona pull away, but the highlights of this game came on back-to-back plays in the second half. First, Trier posterized an Oregon State defender:
Then Alkins did something you only see in a dunk contest:
It doesn’t exactly look great that a talented Arizona team that Sean Miller has publicly chided for not being able to defend or play hard struggled like this against a team they should manhandle, but a win is a win in league play.
The NCAA announced on Thursday evening that Auburn center Austin Wiley has been ruled ineligible for the 2017-18 season and will not be allowed to play in the collegiate ranks until the 2018-19 season.
He will have to apply for reinstatement should he remain with the program.
“The decision is based on currently available information from the school, applies only to the individual eligibility of Wiley and does not impact any future infractions action,” the NCAA release said. “In addition, the outcome of this decision can be modified if additional or different facts warrant additional review.”
Auburn self-reported violations involving recruiting, extra benefits and agent-related activity, according to the NCAA. On Nov. 10th, Auburn announced that Wiley and sophomore Danjel Purifoy would be held out of competition pending a review of their eligibility. Both players were caught up in the FBIs investigation into corruption in college basketball. Former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person allegedly gave a total of $18,500 to the mothers of the two players in an effort to get them to invest with a financial advisor that had been bribing him.
Wiley is a 6-foot-11 sophomore that averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 boards last season.